Conditioned by Air Conditioning?

Jul 27, 2011

The current heat wave in Kentucky could be a record breaker….and Thursday could be the hottest day, so far this year.  It makes one wonder how Kentuckians coped before air conditioning was invented. It was a scant half century ago when air conditioned homes or cars were rare.  Today, one would be hard pressed to find an average wage earner who lives without air conditioning.  Doctor Tom Wayne, who’s a professor of medicine at the University of Kentucky, says certain people could find the 90 plus degree heat more physically oppressive than our ancestors.


“There’s much more risk if you are used to being comfortable now and not exposed to the heat and then suddenly go and over do it and not aware that you need to take plenty of fluid and take breaks,” said Wayne.

Wayne says temperature above 90 to pose a health risk for heart patients.  But, he adds most people go from their air conditioned office out into the summer heat simply find it ‘uncomfortable.’

“The office worker people we are talking about, you know walking.  They’re just gonna be uncomfortable walking in the heat.  I think where this might play a role is if it was one of my heart patients, was already having angina and then gets in the heat.   That’s more stress,” added Wayne.

Wayne says heat stroke poses the biggest risk.  He says it can trigger inflammation which can result in blood clotting and shut down some organs.  The best medicine is the same today as it was 50 years ago.  Drink plenty of fluids and take a break out of the heat.